Hello, everyone and welcome back to the Restorative Health Solutions blog. In today’s post we are going to dive into the gut. Why are we talking about the gut? Because it is a big deal! Many of our bodily systems depend on the gut, including our brain and our immune system. Diseases caused or complicated by dysbiosis in the gut include inflammatory bowel diseases, inflammatory or autoimmune conditions, food allergy, atopic eczema, unexplained fatigue, arthritis, mental/emotional disorders in children and adults, malnutrition, and breast and colon cancer.
Our Gut and Our Health
An unhealthy gut can lead to systemic, perpetuating inflammation and stress on your body. As such many doctors will say things like, “Health begins with the gut”. Many practitioners agree that fixing the gut is the first step to a healthy body.
So let’s jump into the gut. Living inside your intestines you have trillions of bugs. These bugs (collectively called your microbiota) outnumber the cells in your body 10:1. Typically this biomass weights about 4-5 lbs in an adult. The role of these cells has received increasing attention as affecters of your health.
The above is a link to The Human Microbiome Project (HMP). Just like the human genome project where researchers cataloged human DNA sequences, this project is cataloging the healthy bugs that live on and in you. The Common Fund’s Human Microbiome Project (HMP) aims to characterize the microbial communities found at several different sites on the human body, including nasal passages, oral cavities, skin, gastrointestinal tract, and urogenital tract, and to analyze the role of these microbes in human health and disease.
Our body is made to be surrounded by good, healthy bacteria. Our immune system is regularly programmed and regulated by this constant, symbiotic relationship we have with the good bacteria around us. A study published in Mucosal Immunology in 2011 states that proper intestinal health is a balance between protective (good bacteria) vs. aggressive gut bacteria. I underlined the end of the snapshot from HMP. They are trying “…To analyze the role of these microbes in human health and disease.”
Another study published in 2009 illustrates how the microbiota (your gut flora) changes when the diet changes and how the microbiota differs in someone with obesity than a slender person.
It Gets Even Better…
Some of the most influential and exciting research on this front surrounds fecal transplants. We find that if we take “clean mice” (no bacteria living in their intestines) and transplant gut microbes into these “clean mice”, that they will develop whatever health problem the mouse who gave the gut flora had! If I give the “clean mouse” bacteria from a fat mouse, a Crohn’s mouse, an arthritic mouse…etc they will develop the same problem! This has been demonstrated with obesity, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, IBS, and other health problems, but this is not meant to be an exhaustive study or proof of fecal transplants.
The concept I want everyone to understand is that your health is absolutely, positively linked to the bugs living in your intestines. The fecal transplants also show us that if you can change the bugs living inside you, many times you can change your health!
Now for some all-important questions. How can I know if my health problem is coming from unhealthy gut flora and if it is how do I fix it?
Testing – What Can be Done?
At Restorative Health Solutions, we really like objective, scientific testing. So, when someone tells us about how important the gut is (in general) we want to know how we can test it on our patients. Everyone is different and we believe the right solution applied to the right person will always yield the best results. Therefore, you will have the best results with an individualized health plan for you, based on your specific problems! This leads us back to the question, how can we test a patient to see if they have healthy gut flora?
The best way to see what kind of gut flora you have is to test your poop! These are called stool tests and traditionally it involves a lab viewing feces under a microscope to see what is living there (Aren’t you glad that isn’t your job?). While we are very thankful for the invention of the microscope, we have now advanced to stool analysis that uses DNA, rather than a microscope to investigate the gut.
The use of DNA analysis over a microscope has huge benefits in stool analysis for a few reasons.
1. DNA analysis is much more sensitive needing only 1-5 cells of an organism for detection rather than the 1000-5000 cells necessary for a positive culture test. This increases the sensitivity and specificity of the stool test, which means if it’s there we can actually find it!
2. Over 95% of the microbiota in the GI tract is anaerobic. This means it does not survive when exposed to oxygen. Testing only what grows under a microscope is missing out on all this anaerobic (over 95%) of the intestinal bacteria!
In addition to telling us what bugs are living inside your system, stool testing can tell us how those bugs are functioning. Our stool analysis involves digestive markers for carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, and markers for intestinal inflammation that are invaluable in directing us how a specific person, has specific needs to move them towards health. Through our testing, we find patients who come in with parasites, Candida infections, mold intoxification, out of control bacteria, undigested rotting food in their intestines, etc. What is the solution to the problem? It is different for each patient! That’s why we run the test!
How We Can Help
To help patients with leaky gut we typically use an intestinal repair product that contains 5g of L-glutamine. L-glutamine is a great source of energy for the cells in your intestines and can promote healing. However, please do not think L-glutamine by itself will solve your digestive problems! If you have worms L-glutamine will not fix that. If you have mold, or undigested/rotting food in your intestines L-glutamine won’t fix that. You need to be tested! You need a specific solution for your health problems based on a scientific, individualized test. Testing the gut is a great place to start for many health problems people struggle with every day.
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